Welcome to Number Muncher Diets, a computer program developed by Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS) and the Rowett Institute from their research funded principally by the Scottish Government. The program uses mathematical methodology to create a ‘weekly shopping list’, offering a selection of food items that satisfies a combination of criteria based on data input in the form of published nutritional guidelines, costs, environmental impact, and personal food preferences. Results should not be taken as a personal dietary recommendation, because a) all individuals, especially children, will have their own particular dietary requirements and food sensitivities, which the program is not designed to reflect, and b) the program uses broad food groups, within which the nutritional content of particular food items will vary. As a learning tool, however, the program has value in enabling users to experiment with different, mathematically calculated diets by varying particular nutritional, economic, and environmental constraints.

This program is offered "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. Any risk associated with using this program is with the user.

Prices and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the food items in this program are based on estimates, which are only appropriate for the United Kingdom.

M@ths Number Muncher Diets uses the mathematical technique of linear programming to find an optimal combination of food items to satisfy a number of nutritional constraints and preferences. It has a list of 99 food items with information about their environmental cost, price, and nutritional value. This means the linear programming takes place in a 113-dimensional space. We have created a 2-dimensional version to help explain the technique: 2D Linear Programming.

Another piece of mathematics is also used in the presentation of the circular 'plate' of food items. The arrangement of these food items on the circular 'plate' is the same as the arrangement of the seeds in a sunflower head, and is based on the Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Mean. While not obvious in 'normal' diets,this diet for a male, who weighs 511 kg and is 511 cm tall, looks very much like a sunflower head!

Age (years)
Weight (kg)
Height (cm)
Activity level
Milk type
Dairy variant

Fruit (min. g/day)
Fruit items (min. variety)
Vegetables (min. g/day)
Vegetable items (min. variety)
Fish (min. g/day)
Red meat (min. g/day)
White meat (min. g/day)
Bread (min. g/day)
Sweets (min. g/day)
Carbohydrate foods (min. g/day)

Specific limits
Food itemMin (portions)Max (portions)
Pasta, noodles, couscous (cooked) X
Potato products grilled or oven baked (not fried) X
Potato (boiled, baked, no fat) X
Fruit juice X
Oily fish (not fried) X
Mixed nuts (shelled) X
Mixed seeds X
Fries, roast potatoes and fried potato products (incl. chips) X
Sweets X
Your diet will be summed up here.
Your nutritional requirements compared to provision in the found diet.
Please type your email address, in order to receive a link to the current diet.
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